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2018 World Cup team preview: Poland

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Getting to know Poland: Going into this tournament Poland are eighth in the FIFA rankings and many fancy them as darkhorses to go deep in Russia following their impressive displays at EURO 2016.

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Led by Robert Lewandowski’s goals (more on him further down), Poland lost to eventual EURO 2016 winners Portugal on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals and have a hardworking team built around their star striker. Playing in their first World Cup since 2006, Poland are ready to make the most of their opportunity and you can expect plenty of Polish fans to head across their eastern border towards Russia to cheer on their team. To learn more about Poland’s history, click here.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 


What group are they in? Group H, as they were top seeds and placed in a ridiculously even group where all four teams could easily win the group. Japan are perhaps the underdogs but Colombia and Senegal will fancy their chances of finishing above Poland to reach the last 16.

Game schedule – Group H – Full 2018 World Cup schedule, here

Tuesday, June 19: Poland v Senegal, Moscow (Spartak) 11am, ET
Sunday, June 24: Poland v Colombia, Kazan 2pm, ET
Thursday, June 28: Japan v Poland, Volgograd 10am, ET


Projected lineup (4-2-3-1) – Check out the 23-man squad list in full

–— Szczesny —–

— Piszczek —— Pazdan — Rybus —- Jedrzejczyk — 

—- Krychowiak — Linetty —-

— Blaszczykowski — Zielinski — Grosicki —

–— Lewandowski —–


Star player: Robert Lewandowski – Bit of an easy one, this. The Bayern Munich star is Poland’s all-time leading goalscorer (53 goals in 94 games) and led European World Cup qualifying with 16 goals as Poland won their group. Lewandowski, 29, is the talisman for Poland and gets plenty of chances from crosses and long balls down the channels which suit his game. The entire team is built to get the best out of the No.9 and with his agent suggesting he will be on the move from Bayern this summer, expect a fired up Lewandowski to take his game to a whole new level.


Manager: Adam Nawalka – A man with a vision who has delivered a steady, solid Polish outfit in recent years. Nawalka is a former Polish international who played at the 1978 World Cup where Poland finished fifth. Yes, his job has been helped due to having Lewandowski in his prime, but Nawalka’s tactics have allowed Poland to move up the ladder in European qualifying rather quickly and they could really have reached the final at EURO 2016 if they had beaten Portugal in the quarters. Nawalka has been in charge since 2013 and after five years at the helm he will see this summer as the pinnacle of his work with Poland so far.


Secret weapon: Arkadiusz Milik – The Napoli forward was ruled out for the first half of the season after another serious knee injury but his form was decent after his return as he scored six goals in 17 appearances in all competitions for the Serie A side. Milik and Lewandowski may not play together all of the time but if Poland need a goal, having the powerful duo up top together will certainly ruffle a few feathers this summer.


Prediction: Poland are very capable of reaching at least the quarterfinals with the draw they have been handed but that would mean getting past either Belgium or England in the last 16. If Lewandowski is firing on all cylinders, they could shock everyone and reach the semifinals. That said, reaching the last eight for a second-straight major tournament would be deemed a huge success.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

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There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.